Louisiana Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Louisiana Law School 1L Study Guide for Torts

Introduction to Torts

Definition and Purpose

  • Torts: Wrongful acts or infringements of rights leading to civil legal liability.
  • Purpose: To compensate victims for losses caused by the tortfeasor (wrongdoer).

Distinction from Other Areas of Law

  • Civil vs. Criminal: Torts are civil wrongs and are distinct from crimes, which are wrongs against the state.

Intentional Torts


  • Definition: Intentional infliction of harmful or offensive contact.
  • Elements: Intent, contact, harm or offense.
  • Case: Fisher v. Carrousel Motor Hotel, Inc. – A plaintiff can recover for battery even without physical harm if the contact is highly offensive.


  • Definition: Intentional act creating a reasonable apprehension of imminent harmful or offensive contact.
  • Elements: Intent, apprehension, immediate threat.
  • No physical contact is required.

False Imprisonment

  • Definition: Intentional confinement of a person without lawful privilege.
  • Elements: Intent, confinement, awareness of confinement.
  • Case: Whittaker v. Sanford – Confinement can be psychological as well as physical.

Intentional Infliction of Emotional Distress (IIED)

  • Definition: Intentional or reckless conduct that is extreme and outrageous, causing severe emotional distress.
  • Elements: Intent or recklessness, conduct, causation, severe emotional distress.
  • Case: Reynolds v. Pegler – The conduct must be so extreme and outrageous that it exceeds all bounds of decency.

Trespass to Land

  • Definition: Intentional entry onto the land of another without permission.
  • Elements: Intent, entry, land of another.
  • Mistake is not a defense.

Trespass to Chattels and Conversion

  • Trespass to Chattels: Intentionally interfering with another’s use or possession of personal property.
  • Conversion: Intentional act depriving the owner of their property permanently or for an extended period.
  • Elements: Intent, interference or deprivation, personal property.


Duty of Care

  • Definition: Legal obligation to conform to a standard of conduct to protect others against unreasonable risks.
  • Reasonable Person Standard: Conduct is measured against the hypothetical “reasonable person.”
  • Case: Vaughan v. Menlove – Reasonable person standard is objective, not subjective.

Breach of Duty

  • Definition: Failure to conform to the standard of care.
  • Learned Hand Formula (B < PL): A breach occurs if the burden (B) of taking precautions is less than the probability (P) of harm multiplied by the severity of the loss (L).


  • Actual Cause (Cause in Fact): The defendant’s breach of duty must be the actual cause of the plaintiff’s harm.
  • Proximate Cause (Legal Cause): The scope of the defendant’s liability is limited to the harms that were foreseeable.
  • Case: Palsgraf v. Long Island Railroad Co. – The harm must be a foreseeable result of the defendant’s actions to establish proximate cause.


  • Definition: Compensatory relief awarded to the plaintiff for the losses suffered due to the defendant’s tortious conduct.
  • Types: Economic (monetary losses) and non-economic damages (pain and suffering).


  • Comparative Negligence: The plaintiff’s recovery is reduced by the percentage of their fault.
  • Louisiana follows a pure comparative negligence system.
  • Assumption of Risk: Plaintiff voluntarily assumed a known risk.

Strict Liability


  • Owners are strictly liable for damages caused by their animals under certain conditions, especially if the animal is known to have dangerous propensities.

Abnormally Dangerous Activities

  • Definition: Activities that create a foreseeable and highly significant risk of harm even when reasonable care is exercised.
  • Factors: High risk of harm, unusual nature, inappropriateness to the location, value to the community.

Products Liability

  • Strict liability may be imposed on manufacturers and sellers for defective products that cause injury.
  • Elements: Defect, causation, damages.
  • Types of Defects: Manufacturing, design, and warning defects.


Libel and Slander

  • Libel: Written or published defamatory statements.
  • Slander: Spoken defamatory statements.
  • Elements: Defamatory statement, identification of the plaintiff, publication, damages (for slander), fault.


  • Truth: An absolute defense to defamation.
  • Privileges: Statements made with certain privileges may be protected from defamation claims.

Privacy Torts

Intrusion upon Seclusion

Public Disclosure of Private Facts

False Light

Appropriation of Name or Likeness

Economic Torts

Interference with Contractual Relations

  • Intentionally causing a third party to breach a contract with the plaintiff.

Interference with Prospective Economic Advantage

  • Intentionally disrupting the plaintiff’s expected economic relationships.

Workers’ Compensation

  • Provides a remedy for employees injured in the course and scope of employment, regardless of fault.
  • Exclusive remedy against employers, but third-party tort claims are still possible.


This study guide provides a broad overview of tort law principles relevant to a 1L course. It is essential to delve into individual cases and statutory laws for a thorough understanding, especially considering the unique aspects of Louisiana law, which combines civil law traditions with common law influences. As you prepare for the final semester exam, focus on understanding the elements of each tort, the defenses available, and the nuances of Louisiana jurisprudence.

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